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The rise of the content curator and how it should impact your organisation

Tony Sheehan – Ashridge Business School

2013 was a year of contrasts. It was a year where millions of people signed up to MOOCs, yet where less than 10% completed most of them. It was a year where we continued to trust global online companies, and yet a year where some sense of how much of our data is hacked, tracked and analysed by governments and third parties became apparent. 2013 is a year where information overload continued to outstrip the ability of many people to learn, at the same time as demands for return on investment and value from learning became greater than ever before.

In a world of such confusion, 2014 will see the continued rise of a new challenge; content curation.  

Content curation is the process of reviewing, rethinking, revising, refreshing and repackaging learning materials to create the best possible impact for the learner.  In a world where so much digital content is freely available, it seems ironic that a new role has evolved from roots in libraries and information scientists.

However, the content curator is key to unlocking the answers to three critical questions in learning delivery:

1. How to encourage learners to pay attention?

Digital learning materials need to be competitive with the best the web has to offer but also stand out as the best way of achieving to a particular learning objective. As such, learning materials must competitive with the best web start-up in terms of design, and comparable to the latest business paperback in terms of relevance and story

2. How to support busy knowledge workers seeking to do their jobs?

Organisations are now in an intensely competitive global village, where learning has become an embedded activity that jakes place ‘just in time’ rather than in advance, ‘just in case’.  The rediscovery of 70:20:10 masks the unwillingness of many organisations to commit to formal learning, instead assuming learning will take place on the job and placing responsibility on the individual to deliver this. Curators must therefore signpost, filter and connect learning to individual needs, allowing flexibility and freedom for people to consume learning through mobiles, tablets or indeed printed forms, 24/7 and in multiple locations and languages.

3. How can individuals build and demonstrate personal capabilities?

Research into the multigenerational workplace highlights the differences between say the immediacy of Gen Y and the more reflective nature of Baby Boomers. That said, for any individual to progress in a world of faceless job applicants, they need to self-manage their own development through consumption of highly tailored learning and then demonstrate this to current or potential employers through credible measures of competence.  There is little patience for ‘more of the same’. Learning must now be personalised, relevant and realistic, and must be linked to portfolios of experience that can be certified and verified as of appropriate quality. E-portfolios as a concept are not new, but the acceptance that badges and experiences could form credible evidence for employability will also start to crystallise in 2014.

Looking to the future, overloaded workers will struggle to find time to learn, and will demand brevity, quality and recognition for the learning assets they consume. 

Content curation can help to weave an effective path through internal and external, free and paid resources, and is key to realising value from the immense potential that exists in the online space today.


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